I was surprised and pleased a couple of days ago when I received an email about an old blog post regarding women church planters. Linda Wurzbacher, lead pastor of Blessed Hope Community Church, responded and was kind enough to answer seven questions I posed to her about her experience as both a pastor and church planter. Pastor Wurzbacher is also started a group to nurture and encourage women church planters (Christ Driven Women). Look for their first conference September 24th & 25th, 2010!
7 Questions for Women Church Planters and Leaders
1. When did you discover God’s calling to pastor and plant a church?
I never made a decision that I wanted to be a pastor, I just came to the realization (revelation) that I was a pastor! I was leading a blossoming Mom’s group at my church at the time and we had an interim pastor. I couldn’t figure out why all these people were coming to me, calling me and standing in line on Sundays to talk to me! I thought it was so very odd. And then it hit me one day, people were coming to me as their pastor. That was sincerely a shocking revelation to me. I was just so in love with Jesus but I never saw myself as a pastor at all. That was the beginning. The story is long so for this venue I’ll simply tell you that I was later ordained at a local church and I had prayed about starting a church for about 8 years before God said: “NOW!”
2. Who were the people who most encouraged and challenged you in your calling?
I’d say my husband and son have always been my biggest encouragers for sure, especially as far as planting a church. As far as being in the role of a pastor, I felt very supported, and encouraged when I was on staff at a church as “Pastor of Women’s Ministries.” God seemed to anoint and bless so much of the ministry I did there, it really did knock my socks off to see so much fruit. The people there encouraged me in huge ways as did my former senior pastor in the beginning. Without that, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to do it. As far as who most challenged me in my calling, I’d say the list is too long to mention–ha! I think some of the other local male pastors were the toughest actually. When I’d attend local pastor gatherings, I felt excluded and treated as a definite un-equal. That was tough to take. As I said, I was so insecure anyway! There was a few that really went out of their way to make me feel welcomed though. Those pastors I will never forget.
3. What are some of the challenges that any church planter (male or female) encounter as they do God’s will?
Honestly, one of the hardest things for me to overcome has been my insecurity. It wasn’t that I doubted God’s calling on my life as much as I just doubted me. I felt insecure, unworthy and just afraid of messing up! The problem with all of that is I made it about me instead of keeping my focus on the fact that God was going to build His church His way. I think insecurity is often the biggest challenge for any church planter, regardless of gender. Sometimes it comes across as arrogance, but it’s still insecurity. Other than that, some of the classic church planter mistakes are always about putting people in positions too quickly. We get worn out and desparate in the beginning and we often don’t wait upon the Lord’s leading and direction. I’ve made such a mistake that almost destroyed our church.
4. What are some unique challenges women pastors/planters face and how do you deal with them?
Our church is located in a very highly populated Catholic area. We also have a lot of Calvary Chapel churches that are very vocal about how they feel about women in ministry. I’ve had people call me and email me and tell me all the reasons I should not be a pastor. Many of the people at our church have felt harrassed by family members and friends for having a female pastor. It also feels pretty lonely at times. There’s a lot less peers to connect with and as a non-denominational woman church planter, it’s really impossible.
5. How has serving the body of Christ as a pastor and planter impacted your marriage and family life?
I have an amazing husband so I am very blessed there! He has always been by my side through it all. It’s been tougher on him really. I didn’t start our church until the year my son went away to college and now that he’s graduated, he’s a pastor at our church so overall, I’d say that part has been very wonderful. We do ministry TOGETHER! 🙂
6. What is your life verse that strengthens you as you pursue God’s will?
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philipians 4:13
7. What advice would you give women who feel called to plant and lead churches? What advice would you give to men in how to relate to them?
Just Do it! 🙂 Well, there is sooo much advice I would give. If they felt called to plant a church, I would tell them to go work / help a church plant in their area if they never have. They will learn sooo much from that experience. It’s the best training ground there is! I would tell them to count the cost because the cost is huge. It is twice as hard to be a woman church planter and it’s plenty hard for a man! I would tell them they need to make sure their husband is in it 100%! They may have to lead him to that point, but they can do all things through Christ who strengthens them. There’s so much more of course…but that’s my short answer.
As far as advice to other men, I’d tell them that they need to do everything they can to support a female pastor in ministry. Of course, there are healthy boundaries, yes. But they need to pray for women pastors and encourage & support them just as they would any sister in Christ!